Facebook revealed on Wednesday a project for decoding thoughts directly from the brain and turning them into written messages without talking or using a keyboard, according to AFP news agency. This technology — worthy of a science fiction scenario — could become reality in a few years.

Facebook wants to read people's thoughts

Regina Dugan a Facebook's responsible — said people will be able to type directly from the brain. She said that — although it seems to be impossible — this technology is closer to reality than we can imagine. Dugan made this statement at the annual conference of the application developer group held in San José, California.

A team of scientists is working on the project of reading people's thoughts

Regina Dugan explained that Facebook has hired a team of more than 60 scientists and engineers who are specialized in artificial intelligence technologies which allow the understanding of the language, of the brain engineering systems and the neurological prostheses.

Their purpose is to create a system capable of decoding words from the brain part which contains the centers of language. Then, these words will be transcribed directly on a computer at the speed of 100 words per minute — this means 5 times faster than the time needed to write them on the touch screen of a Smartphone. This system could be created in the next few years.

The system would not require surgically implanted electrodes, but "noninvasive" capture electrodes, which do not currently exist.

Mark Zuckerberg — Facebook's founder — hopes that one day they will we able to turn this new technology into a portable technology that can be produced on a large-scale.

Reading thoughts could be useful for people with communication problems

Regina Dugan also said someday the technology of reading people's thoughts could become some kind of "language prosthesis" for people with communication problems.

She also described another project that would allow people to "listen to the skin". Just like the human ear transforms the words and sounds into frequencies that are transmitted to the brain — the idea would be to make the user feel these frequencies directly on the skin.

Dugan admitted that the development of this type of technology will probably last for years.

Concerns about people's privacy

Regina Dugan admits that the idea of a company being able to get access to human thoughts sounds frightening, but she stresses that the program will not decode all the thoughts, but only the thoughts that the person intends to say anyway.

However, Facebook was accused of violating people's privacy in the past.

Prior to joining Facebook, Regina Dugan worked for Google, but also for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is developing technology for the US Army.